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Album Review: My Red Car
Lore Constantine
Cover image of the album My Red Car by Lore Constantine
My Red Car
Lore Constantine
2013 / LGC Productions
Disc 1: 40 minutes
Disc 2: 28 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
My Red Car (Deluxe Edition) is a two CD-set from pianist/composer/multi-instrumentalist Lore Constantine. Quite different from her three previous releases, Disc 1 is a collection of eight vocal songs and three instrumentals, and Disc 2 Bonus Tracks is the eight vocals from Disc 1 arranged as instrumentals. Constantine wrote the music for all of the pieces except her covers of Mama Cass Elliot’s 1968 hit “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” “Sunrise Over Haleakala,” and The Grateful Dead’s “Brokedown Palace.” Some of the lyrics were written by Nancy Paolin and some were collaborations with Constantine. Constantine does all of the vocals, piano, ukulele, piccolo, and flute; guest musicians perform on guitar, violin, cello, bass, and drums. While I really appreciate the spirit of the vocals on this album, I vastly prefer the instrumentals, which are all excellent. The emotional range of the songs goes from heart-break to playful and are expressed in ballads, blues, country, and pop styles.

One of my favorite tracks on Disc 1 is the sweet and charming “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” a song I’ve loved since Cass Elliot had her hit with it a few too many years ago. The instrumentation is spare with ukulele, a little bass, cello, and drums, allowing the listener to focus on the lyrics and melody. I love the instrumental, “Night Stroll,” a lively jazz piece that reminds me a bit of Scott Cossu. Piano, violin, cello, bass, and drums really cook on this one! The title track is a lighthearted ode to an aging red Chevette (a first???) and the quest to find a replacement for it. Merl Saunders’ “Sunrise Over Haleakala” is a beautiful duet for piano and cello - smooth, flowing and very relaxing. Constantine usually includes an arrangement of a Grateful Dead song on her albums, and her solo piano “Brokedown Palace” finishes out the disc.

Disc 2 opens with “If Ever Such A Day” with Constantine playing the piccolo rather than singing (she also plays the piano). Jack Prucella provides some really tasty guitar licks and Constantine plays her heart out. She switches to flute for the other seven tracks, conveying at least as much emotion with that instrument as she does on Disc 1 with her voice. I really like the lyrical slow dance “Movin’ Ahead” and the somewhat mysterious “On Nights Like These.” “Dream a Little Dream of Me” is even more charming with flute expressing tenderness and affection. “A Quicksand Conversation” becomes a spirited, bluesy toe-tapper as an instrumental, and even the cellist sounds like he’s having fun! I love the laid-back calm and playfulness of “My Red Car” even without the vocal references to the red Chevette!

My Red Car is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
July 24, 2013
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